Immigrants are concerned about the decision of President Donald Trump to refuse residence or citizenship permits for the beneficiaries of social programs and warned today that, above all, it will affect children, “the future” of the country.
These news was received out of concern not many kilometers away from the White House, in the popular neighborhood of Columbia Heights, where an important Hispanic community resides, but also from people from African countries and the Middle East.
“The benefits are for children,” Beltrán, a Guatemalan who has been residing in the United States without papers for 14 years told Efe, recalling that “over time these children may be the future of this country.”
Beltrán said that “there are times when the father or mother does not have legal permission” and admitted that because of the fear that they will go to the house to be arrested, immigrants do not apply to social programs.
“You cannot go to apply for medical insurance or you may not have a benefit in this country because of fear,” confessed this man, who said that returning to Guatemala would be “a bit complicated,” because “there is no work, there is no employment, there is nothing”.
Concern was also expressed by Andrea Coronado, a young Guatemalan mother of two children who fears that her immigration process may be affected by recent government decisions.
“It will be a great impact for our Latino community, mostly because he (Trump) is acting with a lot of racism. And personally I think it will affect us,” he said.
“This is the country of opportunities, which at this time with the racism that this president has raised, many people think that I do not know if it will be the best country, because in our countries one lives poorly, but (here) they have like a hunt against us, just for being of a different race” Coronado added.
In a Columbia Heights supermarket, her manager, Míriam Ramírez, sees how new government measures can affect everyone “in many ways.”
“It lowers sales, business; hours … it affects all of us” she said. “Be that as it may, because if they take away hours (from work), that means there aren’t many sales.”
Ramírez estimated that 70% of the sales dominate the traditional products of Central America and Mexico, from food stamps or stamps, as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is popularly known.
“We have 80% of Hispanic clients and almost most of them live on the stamp and all that, because there are people who have many children and that helps them,” said Ramírez, who said that these are cards that people receive to buy food and in some cases they deliver cash.
Executive director of the People’s Clinic, Catalina Sol, whose organization serves immigrants, mainly Latin Americans, in Washington and the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia, explained to Efe that the regulation announced by the Trump Administration is designed to create “fear”.
Sol clarified that publicly funded health services are aimed, above all, at permanent residents for five years, not those who are in the process of obtaining this condition.
But he warned that many parents may now be afraid to apply for these benefits for their children, mostly born in the country, as it can affect their immigration process.
“It is discriminatory in many ways, it is racist and designed to give the idea that any legitimate use of public benefits can harm me in the long run,” said Sol, for whom the impact on health is “great, but particularly in the mental healt” of immigrants.
“It damages the access of people who have services, it damages the social network, it damages the mental health of our community, it feeds the fear and it feeds our feeling that we are in a moment of persecution,” concluded Sol.